Monday, May 7, 2012

:A Tailgunner's Diary (Cover)



From this cover you can tell that 'A Tailgunner's Diary' is more than a WAR story. Plus, there are over 300 Pictures.  The book is Available at this addresson Amazon for $2.00:                                

     'A Tailgunner's Diary' Along with my published novels 'The Tornado Struck at Midnight', available on Amazon at


And What Women Know                                   available on Amazon at

Sunday, May 6, 2012

:A Tailgunner's Diary (Cover)



From this cover you can tell that 'A Tailgunner's Diary' is more than a WAR story. There are over three hundred Pictures.
     It is available on Amazon along with my published novels 'The Tornado Struck at Midnight', and 'What Women Know'. 
Take a look. 
This is 
'A Tailgunner's Diary' available on Amazon at                                

And here is my book, 'The Tornado Struck at Midnight',                        
available on Amazon at

and here is What Women Know                                   available on Amazon at

Monday, July 25, 2011


When I was four years old in 1925, we (Mother [33], Dad [52], Angela [8], me [4], Hannah [3], and Genieve [2]) moved from New York City to Spotswood New Jersey. (Your Grandfather did some things in a big way, so at least one trip to Spotswood was via taxicab.) As the crow flies, Spotswood was about 50 miles from Yonkers NY. Culturally, Spotswood was about 100 years from NY.

NY had street cars, subways, electricity, indoor plumbing, paved streets & sidewalks, street lights, police, & telephones. NY had theaters, grocery stores, bakeries, butcher shops, delicatessens, restaurants, ice cream parlors, parks, concerts, movies, clothing stores, laundries, cleaners, shoe stores, doctors & dentists. When we lived in NY we lived in an extended family at least part of the time. Dad had rented a big house in Yonkers and many family members lived there with us at the same time. Among the people that lived there at various times were Grandma (Gamis mother), Aunt Mae, Aunt Minnie, Aunt Doris, Uncle (actually Uncle Alfie but since we had no other blood uncles, we always called him Uncle), Aunt Rose, Phil (Dad's son), Amy (Phil's wife), Stanley & Edward (Phil & Amy's children) Mr & Mrs Peres (Amy's mother & father), Winnie (Dad's daughter), Uncle Will (Dad's brother) Aunt Jess (uncle Will's wife) and of course, various children such as Alice, Maggie & Bill (Uncle Will's), Gloria & Joyce (Aunt Mae's), Flavio (Aunt Doris's), Earnest (Aunt Rose's) and God knows who else. I even believe one of Dad's sisters, Nora, visited at one time.

So Spotswood was quite a change- especially for Mother (Whose family even had servants when she lived in Trinidad, B.W.I.), but also for Dad. The house was two stories with three small bedrooms upstairs and one 12 x 12 bedroom, a 10 x 10 parlor, a 12 x 16 dining room, and an 8 x 12 kitchen downstairs. There was an enclosed 5 x 12 back porch and an open L shaped front porch running along two sides of the parlor and permitting direct entry into the dining room at the end of the L. The front door into the parlor was never used. However, you had to walk from the dining room through the parlor to get to the downstairs bedroom. There were no halls downstairs but the staircase from the dining room led to a hall at the top, which in turn led to the three upstairs bedrooms. At first we all slept upstairs with Mother & Dad in the front bedroom and all four children in two twin beds in the back bedroom. The downstairs bedroom was reserved for guests. That was what we had. Doesn't sound too bad but perhaps I had better detail what we didn't have in case it escaped your notice.

There was no plumbing. We had an outhouse about 50 feet from the back door. In the winter with two ft. of snow on the ground and the temperature at 20 degrees (including the toilet seat) a trip to the bathroom was an adventure. (This adventure was reserved for the adults since at least the small children used a Po.) There was no electricity. (We had gas lights, which were not bad when compared to the alternative - kerosene lanterns.) There were no closets in any of the rooms and no cabinets in the kitchen. There was no water in the house. There was a well in the yard from which water was obtained via a pail. There was a coal furnace in the cellar to provide heat. This proved to be somewhat difficult however, since every winter the basement would acquire six to eight inches of water which saturated the coal and made it next to impossible to light. There was no telephone, no mail delivery, no newspaper delivery, no radio, and if you can possibly conceive it, no TV:( it hadn't been invented yet). Bread & milk were delivered. In the winter, the milk would partially freeze, pushing the bottle cap out and allowing the frozen cream to rise 4" above the top of the bottle.

There were other deficiencies related to Spotswood. The roads were dirt, and in bad weather, mud, snow or ice. We had no automobile or other mode of transportation, so that meant that everybody walked. Dad, who (in today's vernacular was physically challenged with a stiff right leg) had to walk about a mile every morning and every evening, rain or shine, snow or sleet, to catch the 6 AM train to work and to return from the 7:30 PM train every evening. When we were young we only saw Dad on week ends. In the several years that he did this, he never missed a train or a days work but sometimes in bad weather the train would be delayed for several hours and he would not get home 'til after midnight. With no means of communication none of us were ever sure that Dad would return. But at four AM the next morning, no matter how late he arrived home the previous night, he would be up so that he could fuel the furnace, have breakfast and walk to the train station in time to catch the 6 AM train. (Since this was the only train until the 7:30 PM return train in the evening Dad could never afford to miss the train). Dad worked half a day on Saturday. There was only a noon train from the city on Saturday.

Mother, with four young children was trapped at home most of the time before we three younger children started school. Grocery shopping was done once a week on Saturday. (Fortunately, the rather large purchase was delivered by the grocer later in the day). Groceries were stored on the back porch which also housed the ice box. On these occasions, mother would dress all the children for the approximately one mile walk to the nearest grocery, but that was a major undertaking and not to be done more than once a week if possible. This required a bit of planning since there was no refrigeration. It was actually a bit easier in the winter since the back porch made a nice refrigerator. To wash clothes required hauling water from the well, heating water on the gas stove, pouring water in a large galvanized tub and scrubbing the clothes on a galvanized scrub board. The tub doubled as a bath tub for each persons once-a-week bath. The clothes were hung to dry on the clothes line, summer & winter. The ironing board was supported on the backs of two chairs or on a table. There were heavy flat irons and a steam iron which were heated on the gas stove. Washing dishes involved a similar procedure. Dishes were dried with a dishtowel until Dad built a dish rack on which the dishes could be placed to air dry. This was our first major appliance. Mother's daily tasks - besides child care- involved making the beds preparing the meals (always from scratch), cleaning the house (sweeping, mopping, dusting), fetching water, burning the trash (no garbage disposal or trash collector) & feeding the animals (cats, dogs, chickens & sometimes rabbits). She also found time to plant flowers, raise vegetables, gather strawberries, blackberries or blueberries and bake fruit pies or cakes (including apple). She mowed lawns, washed windows, wallpapered, painted, built low brick walls, attended our grape arbor, gathered eggs, made clothes, made curtains, read stories to us, & played games. She walked to town to call the doctor when we were ill. (Workers had no benefits, not even vacations or sick leave, let alone medical insurance). She took us on the bus (from town) to the dentist in New Brunswick which required a whole day and always seemed to happen in winter. I (and I assume all the others) only went to the dentist to have a tooth pulled. We never had regular dental care in Spotswood. On special occasions she would prepare the appropriate feast. A turkey came with all of its parts including innards, head, feet and feathers. (As did the chickens which we ate on occasion, and they also had to be killed.) Just removing the head, innards, feathers & feet was major labor, and didn't do much for the preparer's appetite. However, Mom's major privation was probably the loss of contact with her family and other adult companionship. We had some visitors on weekends during the summer months, but the isolation was almost complete in the winter.

One summer in preparation to entertain summer guests, Mother and Dad cleared a large rectangle in the fields for a regulation tennis court. They leveled the ground, rolled it firm (with a water filled roller), marked the court with chalk lines and put up supports for the net. Obviously, Dad couldn't play tennis, but he could play a mean game of ping pong and was a great billiard player. I believe that "nature" reclaimed the tennis court in a couple of months.

Some improvements to the physical hardship occurred over time. Dad first put a pump (hand powered) in the kitchen which eliminated the need to fetch water. The larger improvements came when electricity came to Spotswood. One Xmas Dad received a battery (car battery) powered radio as a bonus from his employer. (He was chief Engineer at the Diamond Electric Corporation in Elizabeth NJ.) It was huge and weighed a ton. The speaker hung on the wall, camouflaged in a still life painting. We could now listen to news reports and, more importantly, Amos and Andy. Dad installed an electric pump and storage tank so that we could have (cold) running water in the kitchen and he installed indoor plumbing in the small middle bedroom upstairs, turning it into a bathroom and eliminating the outhouse. We got electric lights, allowing us to go upstairs or to the cellar without the need for a flashlight and reducing injury from accidents. Dad enlarged the kitchen by incorporating the back porch. He also built a billiard table and added a 12 x 25 ft room to house it. He tore down the barns and chicken coop to obtain the lumber for the project. The beams in the barns were all rough sawn oak. No two beams were the same size. There were no power tools. The drill braces, saws, planes, sanders, nail pullers, chisels, routers, etc. were all hand tools. Every 2x4, 2x6 & 2x8 had to be made by rip sawing each one by hand from larger timbers. And working with oak meant that the tools got dull rapidly requiring that they be sharpened frequently. To sharpen a saw required that the saw be clamped between two strips of wood and each tooth be hand filed on each of two surfaces. Once the teeth were filed, each tooth had to be set (one tooth bent to the right and the next to the left) so that the width of the cut (cerf) would provide clearance for the saw. Working with oak also meant that Dad had to drill a pilot hole for each nail with his hand cranked drill and lubricate each nail with soap because the oak was so hard that all the nails would bend if this were not done. In addition to making most of the lumber, he also salvaged all of the bricks for the new foundation by removing bricks from the existing foundation along the walls where the new room would join the house. This required chiseling out the mortar between the bricks so as not to break them, and then carefully chipping off the remaining cement so that they could be re-used. Dad did everything himself, which might give you a clue.

But at the end of 1929 the stock market collapsed and the Great Depression commenced. Many people lucky enough to have investments, lost it all in the crash. But the rest were no better off. In 1929 there was no safety net. The work force was 99% men because obviously women had more to do at home than the men were doing at work. But since only men were working, when a job was lost there was no income. There was no unemployment insurance. Dad was Chief Engineer at the Diamond Electric Corporation in Elizabeth New Jersey, so in spite of our poor living conditions by today's standards, we were really one of the wealthier families in Spotswood. But Dad had never put any money in the bank. His method of saving was to double up on his mortgage payments. In a few months after the crash, Dad's company stopped paying the employees, and in a few more weeks the company was bankrupt. Since there was no unemployment insurance, never had been any medical insurance, and no welfare there was instant starvation unless there were some savings. People who had bank accounts had to start withdrawing them. By 1931 the banks started going under. Those who had bank accounts lost their money since there was no deposit insurance for bank accounts. In those days, people hoped or expected to work until they died. I can remember the adult fear that in their old age they would end up in the "poor house". Few companies provided pensions and there was no Social Security. With the depression, some families were split up and children were placed in foster homes.

Dad was always a liberal fighting for workers rights and social legislation. In 1928 he voted for Al Smith, the Democratic candidate, and since we never owned a car, campaign stickers were pasted on our (the children's) wagon. When he worked for the Diamond Electric Corporation as Chief Engineer, he was able to employ his brother, Uncle Will, his son Phil and two or three other male relatives. When the depression hit, he became much more politically active. He made speeches in Central Park (having to endure much heckling). He wrote letters to politicians. When Dad lost his job he obtained other work as a tool and die maker. He became active in the unions and marched on picket lines. He was attacked by strikebreakers. He typed hundreds of job applications and sent them all over the country. At one time he obtained a job in Kalamazoo Michigan and worked there for about a year. He wrote letters regularly and sent money to support us.

During the depression, the Pennsylvania Railroad decided that it wasn't making any money on the trains that went through Spotswood and decided to discontinue service. Dad started a petition, collected thousands of signatures (including Hannah's, Gen's, Ange's & mine) and sued the RR in court to resume service. Dad won without an attorney. He also wrote hundreds of letters to world leaders and our President. He wrote every Congressman and every Senator with his ideas to revive the economy. From 1933 on, this effort was a major part of his activity. He wrote a booklet of political poems and sold them door to door to help finance his letter writing campaign. He obtained backing from several merchants in Spotswood and Jamesburg. They paid for printing materials, stamps, envelopes and obtained a mimeograph machine and we set up a print shop on the billiard table for the production of his many letters to Governors, Senators, Congressmen, world leaders etc. And he received responses, including responses from Hitler & Mussolini.

However, by 1933 all of the jobs had petered out. By that time FDR had been elected and within the first 100 days had instituted many social programs to assist the destitute and many other programs to assist business to get the people working again. (The programs that were instituted were very much in keeping with what Dad had been proposing. Obviously Dad was not living in a vacuum, and his ideas probably reflected much of the liberal thought of the time.) In late 1933 Mother applied for "relief". Dad was furious because for him it was a humiliation. But, by this time we had lost our house, (but were not evicted) and we owed all the merchants in town enormous bills. They had carried us on credit through our difficult times. (That is certainly something that would not happen today unless small towns are different) Relief didn't pay off the bills, but it bought our food (food stamps) and paid our $15 a month rent. (We had lost the house because we couldn't pay the property taxes.) While this was considered charity (welfare by today's terms) people were expected to work if they could. Dad worked for the WPA (Works Progress Administration). He was 61 and had a stiff leg, but he worked as a laborer on the road crew. The WPA paved the streets in Spotswood including the street in front of our house. Dad drove spikes to set the forms and wheeled concrete in wheelbarrows on that project. When the school children were on vacation, he repaired every desk in our public school by resurfacing all the desk tops to remove the carved initials and then varnishing each desk.

During the depression, our lifestyle suffered a setback. When we couldn't pay our utility bills, our electricity and gas were cut off and we used kerosene lamps for light and a coal stove in the kitchen for cooking. With no electricity, we could not pump water into our storage tank so we had no running water. We no longer had a well, so we had to fetch water by the bucket from local springs for all our water needs, including flushing the toilet. Our neighbor across the street had an outside manual pump, and we sometimes obtained water there, but their water smelled like a sewer. In New Jersey you could hit water by digging a hole two ft. deep, but our neighbors didn't trust surface water, so they had a well drilled over 50 ft. deep and they must have hit a sulpher mine. It tasted awful.

At one point the coal stove was converted to kerosene, which was a big improvement but also a much greater fire hazard. We couldn't afford coal for the furnace, so in winter we lived in the kitchen since it was the only room with heat. Mother warmed bricks in the oven and wrapped them in rags and put them at the foot of our beds at night so that we could all get in bed. The bedrooms & the beds were often below freezing (with ice from condensation on the floor) so it took some time for body heat to make the bed warm. I sometimes cut down trees to get wood for the furnace, but it was not possible to heat the whole house in winter by my efforts. I don't remember how long we were without electricity, but during that time, Dad rigged up a jumper to bypass the electric meter. The jumper was right out front with the wire going through the upstairs bedroom window. I yanked it off a couple of times when we were afraid the electric company would spot it. I think that once we were on relief, we had electric power.

During that time there were many homeless men roaming the countryside and often one would stop and ask for work and a meal. Mother never invited one of these men in the house, but she always provided a meal, which was eaten outside with all of the children watching. One winters day with lots of snow on the ground Mother noticed from the kitchen window that there was a person or an animal crawling along a road about a quarter of a mile behind our house. We all ran across the snow filled fields and discovered one of the town tramps crawling along. He said "I'm just drunk ma'am". We all helped him down the road about a mile, to the chicken house, lined with newspapers for insulation, that he was living in. He got in his bunk and mother lit his fire before we left. At this time our meals were basic. Lots of boiled potatoes and whatever other staples the relief agency was handing out. The summer was better, because Mother and all the children could go into the fields to gather strawberries and other wild berries that were in season. Then Mom made pies or cakes to liven our menu.

In 1935 Mother went to NY and stayed with Aunt Mae. All the "girls" (Mother, Mae, Minnie & Doris) worked in Aunt Mae's house making men's ties. They picked up the cut out materials, assembled the ties, hand stitched them, ironed them and returned them and picked up another batch. They were paid by the number of ties completed, probably less than ten cents a tie. Dad managed the household in Spotswood with the help of the children. In 1935, Ange was in High School and was 18, I was 14, Hannah was 13 and Gen was 12. After a few months Mother rented an apartment at 8005 Myrtle Ave. in Glendale Long Island for $20 per month and we moved to the city. Before we left Spotswood, all of our creditors were allowed to come to our house and select any of our belongings in settlement of our debts. We arrived in NY with our beds, our dining room table and chairs and our clothes. Dad got a job within a week for $20.00 per week. Mother was 43 and Dad was 62 and they were starting over.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cover of The Tornado Struck at Midnight

Cover of The Tornado Struck at Midnight

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Letter to my Mother

I just found this letter I wrote to my Mom after we were shot down on Normandy in WWII:

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Subj: Re: from Alex Haley's story
Date: 12/13/1999 10:53:02 AM Pacific Standard Time
From: WCGreayer
To: Hhs 5
As I write, I marvel that anyone makes a living at this profession.  Of course I began writing when there was no need to make a living at it.  It started quite by accident.  In 1994, Susan, and I traveled to Britain for a vacation.  Our visit coincided with their fiftieth anniversary celebration of World War II D-day, the day the allies invaded Normandy.  Since I had flown thirty-five combat missions as a tail-gunner over Nazi Germany with the 493rd Bomb Group, we took one day of our tour to visit the site of my old airbase.  Our British host took us around the crop land near Debach, England, where our base had been located, and provided me with copies of records detailing all the missions flown by the 493rd.
  Upon returning home, I rummaged in the attic looking for a box that had remained unopened for fifty-years.  It contained memorabilia, all innocent looking stuff: a 1939 high school annual, some track medals, old photos, military records, Air Medal citations, and over five-hundred World War II vintage letters.  They were buried skeletons, forgotten nightmares, locked up memories of lost youth, hope, and joy.  Lost sweethearts spoke to me and smiled up at me.  Hundreds of comrades killed in that war, lived again.  Tears I should have shed fifty years ago, flowed down.  My lost emotions took command and wracked my body, my soul.  As a means of putting my demons to rest, I began writing a memoir.  Finally, I realized I had an epic W.W.II romance in the making, and who better to write it than one who had lived it?  In the past five years I have written a novel titled, The Box in the Attic.  I wrote the story as a novel because you can tell more truth in a book posing as fiction than you can in a memoir masquerading as fact.  (Of course, you can also invent a lot of stuff to make it more the way you wish it was.)
 The writing has put my demons to rest.  It was a substitute for the Psychiatrist's couch.  I no longer cry in the night.  And Alex Haley's story doesn't tell of the joy of creation.  In the last five years I have enjoyed my labor more than at any other time in my life.  But, I'm glad I waited until the end of my life to do it.  Meanwhile I have been a messenger, a bank clerk, a machinist, a pilot, a tail gunner, a carpenter, an auto mechanic, a house painter, a salesman, an architect, and an engineer.  As a rookie engineer at Northrop Aircraft Corporation, I wrote an unsolicited proposal for a short track acceleration sled to test missile components to their launch environment.  The USAF awarded Northrop a contract and I headed the team which designed and built the facility.  On May 24, 1954, I was featured in an article in LIFE Magazine titled, Missile Man's Magic.  Later that year I was interviewed by Bob Barker on his TV program, You Asked for It.  This program was rebroadcast hundreds of times throughout the world.  This led to a position as head of the proposal department at Coleman Engineering, where I wrote hundreds of proposals over a five-year period.  All of these activities used other creative talents that I would never have used had I simply become a writer right after the war.  And writing is much more comfortable with a full belly.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Dear Wes
 Shall we then take this seed of hatred and plant it in the fertile soil of heart and mind, nourishing it each day until it turns upon the very soil from whence it sprang and, like a vulture, jealous of the little spot it holds, devour in entirety the reason of our minds and the mercy of our hearts.... and viewing then its power over our blighted frames.... strikes still deeper and invade the sacred portals of our souls...
  I have looked into the heart of man and now I tiptoe across the abyss and tremble lest I stumble and become one with him.  There are some who tiptoe with me, and the catwalk is long and our vigilance never ending, for they mean to have us or to cast us out.  Already united in evil, we must not too be united in complacency........If I have done the deed, then let me be sorry for the deed, not the consequences... Let my heart not cry because of my conscience, but because of my act.
  Are we in truth children of love or of hate???  And if of love, why is hatred so - so often our more natural state?  It is but the work of a moment to call the pack....its fearful deeds to employ... Their Sunday dress laid aside and all that Sunday built - by Sunday eve...(if indeed it lasts so long...) they hasten to destroy!
  There is only one me.  There never has been and never will be the exact same composite of genes and etc. which go into the chemistry of my body.... there never has been nor ever will be the exact same joys, longings, sorrows, murmurings of life as I have heard them; warmth of the sun; cold winds - as I have felt them...loves as I have felt them...  No two hands touch the same, no two ears hear the same or eyes see...  No two souls are the same, for I am, and you are and never again shall we ever be...
  We are each unique.  We are each a priceless gem, for nowhere is there another like us.  Let us then give off a light which reflects our great worth... In bearing, word, and deed let us live a glory to our single breed!   And yet, in truth, I am not only one, but like a woven tapestry... there are the threads of sires past in me and I in thee...
 Don't mind me.